Agricultural Marketing Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Sandor Pike, delivers an address on behalf of Acting Permanent Secretary, Reginald Budhan, at the annual conference of the Small Ruminants Association of Jamaica (SRAJ), held on Thursday (November 17), at the Boodles Agricultural Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Reginald Budhan, has underscored the need for large-scale investments in Jamaica’s small-ruminants industry.
This, he said, is in order to facilitate the expansion of the subsector by increasing the size of goat and sheep herds and diversifying outputs to include by-products such as cheese and milk.
“The production of cheese and milk would, thus, contribute another important component of the value-added thrust of our agro-industrial goals,” Mr. Budhan contended.
His remarks were made in a speech delivered by the Ministry’s Agricultural Marketing Director, Sandor Pike, during the Small Ruminants Association of Jamaica’s (SRAJ) annual conference at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, on Thursday, November 17, 2016.
Mr. Budhan noted the need for farmers to increase production to satisfy demand for goat and sheep meat.
He said that only 480,000 animals had been produced up to 2007 when the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) conducted its last farming sector survey.
While the figure would have since increased, he noted that production was still well below market demand.
Mr. Budhan said the sector’s ability to generate more robust growth has been constrained by several factors, including a limited number of farmers rearing more than 100 animals; issues of land tenure contributing to low production levels; inadequate access to financing; and high input costs.
The Acting Permanent Secretary noted that the Ministry has undertaken several measures to assist the sector, including improving genetic quality through artificial insemination and embryo transfer.
“We have also been able to establish a revolving scheme to provide goats and sheep to farmers and to the agricultural schools to develop the production of small ruminants,” he noted.
Additionally, he said, discussions have been held with farmers in relation to the possible use of sections of the agro-parks for forage production to generate feed and animal rearing.
Mr. Budhan pointed to the need for increased stakeholder partnerships to grow the sector, noting that the “Government cannot do it alone”.
“Government can only provide the policy and regulatory environment; that must be matched with private-sector investment in the spirit of true partnership,” he emphasised.
He cited the successes from partnerships involving broiler companies and poultry farmers, noting that “this is an excellent model to be emulated”.
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